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Emerald Hills Institute Annual Interfaith Iftar Dinner of 2019

This page has been updated with the after-event media and description.

On May 16th, Emerald Hills Institute hosted a community Iftar for friends and their families, open to our neighbors from all walks of life. Our keynote speakers were Emma Houston from the Salt Lake Mayor’s office, and Father Elias of the Greek Orthodox community.

Emma Houston is Salt Lake County’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. She is an experienced community volunteer, and spends her time teaching people how to bring out the best of what makes each of us unique. Father Elias Koucos, shepherd of the Greek Orthodox community in Salt Lake and a founding member and past chair of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, spoke about gratitude and peace-building in community. Although they did not plan it, these two speakers shared beautiful messages of hope and inspiration which perfectly complimented each other – Director Houston’s from a practical and secular viewpoint, and Father Elias’ from a vantage-point of faith. It was striking how each gave examples of the ways everyone, regardless of background or beliefs, can apply Ramadan principles of compassion and gratitude to build their own network of peace.

A short video explaining Ramadan was shown – this was particularly helpful for a number of attendees not necessarily familiar with this particular holiday, but excited to celebrate with their Muslim friends. Ramadan is a 29 to 30 day celebration of the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Mohammad, when faithful Muslims around the world fast during the daylight hours and enjoy the company of family and friends during the night. The fasting helps us to be extra mindful of the blessings we may take for granted every other time of the year, and also helps us to focus our hearts on those around the world who may not be experiencing our same good fortune. This is a time of charity and sharing with everyone painfully familiar with the pangs of hunger, as well as a personal dedication to do what we can to make the world a friendlier place for everyone.


The food was wonderful, the conversation was happy and energetic, and it was exciting to see so many people make new friends! At each table strangers quickly went from being awkwardly polite to sharing their favorite jokes, and mutual kindness paved the way towards newfound respect. As always, the Emerald Hills kitchen team did an amazing job – the traditional Turkish flavors disappeared very, very quickly, and everyone came away with full bellies and contented spirits.

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As we reached our maximum capacity for this event, we cannot accept any more RVSPs to this event. Please accept our apologies and stay tuned with more upcoming events by following our website and social media profiles.

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